Full Circle Brewing Tour: Road Diary #21


By Mahalia Breen

Saturday, September 9, 2017

States: South Dakota & Nebraska

Miles Driven: 640

Travel Time: 9 hours


Saison Bernice from Sante Adairius in Capitola, Calif.

Unreleased mixed culture beer from Monkish in Los Angeles, Calif.

Saison by White Elm in Lincoln, Neb.

If you squint, Nebraska looks a lot like Eastern North Carolina. Lots of small towns and farms. It's pretty much green and flat with the exception of some rolling hills and trees. There was even a few miles of hills with brown grass that had the appearance of dunes with a mirage of water in the distance.

This is what I imagined the Midwest would look like. Technically, South Dakota is also part of the Midwest, but the areas we were in were too mountainous to fit my preconceived notions of the rolling fields of the Great Plains.

Tonight we were headed to the home of Matt Dinges, owner of Good Life Provisions Distribution Company. He worked for Shelton Brothers for a long time before venturing out on his own.

Ryan and Matt met at the Mikkeller Festival in Copenhagen years ago. They worked together on a beer called Farmer's Wave when Ryan worked at Hill Farmstead, so when Ryan saw that we would be driving Nebraska, he reached out.

Lincoln is a college town with a lot of heart, or hearts rather. They have heart sculptures decorating various buildings in the downtown, which we zipped through on our way to the suburbs.

Matt got into the beer industry because he was a beer enthusiast. He did a lot of traveling around, drinking beer, and got to know people in the industry.

Then when the Shelton Brothers wanted to enter the Nebraska market he volunteered to help get them started in his home state in exchange for beer, and the next thing you know, he was working for them full-time in Massachusetts.

If you want to be in the beer industry, there are lots of different ways to do it.

Matt made homemade pizzas, while our daughters ran amok, playing with toys and the Dinges' adorable pugs. Meanwhile the grown-ups shared some bottles and chatted.

The Saison Bernice is kind of like Sante's flagship beer. It is a very fine beer that if you haven't tried yet, you probably should.

The saison by White Elm was a yeast-forward saison that reminded me of when I used to make pizza crust with beer, so it made it a nice pairing for a pizza dinner.

Then for dessert, we had the unreleased Monkish, which was a collab between Matt, Monkish and Mikkel. It had a nice, bright lime flavor with an intriguing aroma. Very tasty.

After dinner we sat in the dark in the dining room, whispering, trying to see if and when our daughters would fall asleep because they were both a little over-excited about having a sleepover.

I think in the '80s and '90s a lot of the marketing around beer was about girls in bikinis and partying in bars and clubs. This kind of marketing led to a lot of beer drinkers making a lot of bad decisions.

Most of the people I know in the craft beer industry are married with small children, and many craft beer consumers fall into the same demographic.

So here is my commercial for craft beer, inspired by last night: Two couples sit at a kitchen table, sipping beer from tulip glasses by candlelight. Then a small, curly-haired three-year-old in pajamas runs past the the table and into the adjoining room.

"Hey," her father whispers, "what are you doing out of bed?"

"You mean you can see me?" asks the little girl in disbelief.

The adults look at each other over their glasses and bust out laughing.

Then the words come across the screen: "Craft beer, complementing life's little moments."

(Editor’s Note: Mahalia Breen and her husband, Ryan, are relocating their brewing business from Vermont to North Carolina. Before that, they're embarking on one last grand adventure: The Full Circle Brewing Tour. They're doing a big lap around the country for the whole month of July, driving through 26 states, doing six collaboration brews with breweries across the country and seeing some of the best sites this country has to offer.)